HIADA tweaks state football format and adds instant replay

Castle senior Senituli Punivai took the Knights to the OIA D-I title game against champion Waipahu last season. Under a new format approved at HIADA, the OIA second-place team will advance to the D-I state tournament. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Athletic directors approved the tweaking of the Hawaii high school state football tournament format at their annual legislative meeting Thursday afternoon.

The vote in favor of two state tourney format proposals Thursday was 51-40 at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association at its annual legislative meeting at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue. Both measures then moved on to receive final passage from the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board Thursday evening, also at the Marriott.

The most likely eventuality of the two will occur when the Kauai Interscholastic Federation makes official what executive director Jon Kobayashi confirmed is its intention — a declaration of its teams to compete in D-II.

When that declaration becomes official, the legislation gives the go-ahead to add a fifth team (OIA second place) into the D-I mix. A year ago, there were only four D-I state qualifiers.

D-II would likely go down to five teams (two from the OIA and one each from the KIF, BIIF and MIL) from six due to the loss of an ILH representative because that private-school league only has one team (Pac-Five) competing at that level and an HHSAA rule stipulates that a league needs at least two teams to be eligible for one state berth.

So, in simple terms, the 2019 state tournament is likely to have four teams in the Open Division and five in D-I and D-II. A year ago, the breakdown was 4-4-6.

In the unlikely event that the KIF decides to go the D-I route, there would be six teams (two from the OIA and one each from the four other leagues) in D-I and four teams in D-II (two from the OIA and one each from the BIIF and MIL).

In divisions with five teams (something new for the HHSAA), there will be four seeded teams — with the fourth-seeded team facing the unseeded team in the first round prior to the semifinals.

A separate item that passed 50-40-1 at HIADA and then received approval by the HHSAA board exempts the D-I football tournament from normal HHSAA seeding procedures. Now, a league with only two representatives in a particular division (such as ‘Iolani and Damien in ILH D-I) will now be able to have a seeded team, unlike in the past when a league needed three representatives to get a seed. This will actually guarantee that ILH D-I gets a seeded team and that the OIA’s second-place team (the only non-champion) will be the unseeded entry.

Instant replay review was also adopted by a 91-0 vote at HIADA and subsequently passed by the HHSAA board.

Replay review will only be used at televised state tournament football games at Aloha Stadium, and the actual rules that govern it will be set by the HHSAA’s football committee in conjunction with Matt Sumstine, the HHSAA’s coordinator of officials.

In two other notable moves making it through HIADA (90-1 and 80-11) and the HHSAA board:

>> Timing for state tournament soccer matches at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium will be officially kept on the scoreboard clock, with periods running down to 0:00. In the past, the head referee with a watch kept the official time and the scoreboard displayed unofficial time from the start of a period until the two-minute mark.

>> Track and field state championships will no longer have qualifying standards. Instead, the top 24 athletes and four alternates in each event (based on times and distances throughout the season) will qualify for states.


  1. Jayme Wight June 6, 2019 9:56 pm

    But none of this will stop St. Louis and Iolani from poaching the best players from public schools, will it?

  2. Coach Z June 6, 2019 10:20 pm

    You’re really going to call out Iolani for recruiting? If they’re one of the biggest culprits, then they should’ve done a better job at recruiting.

  3. Kobe June 6, 2019 11:38 pm

    I strongly feel that there is no leadership in the ILH. If I was Blaine Gaison I would have mandated that Kamehameha go down to Division 1 and Damien to Division 2. That would have given the ILH 2 teams in each division and all teams would be eligible for the state tournament. They had ample time to sort out this predicament. This is a raw deal for Pac-5. The ILH needs to look for new leadership.

  4. Wainakea June 7, 2019 12:46 am

    51-40 vote and the board approves it?
    Everything runs around Oahu, can’t help it I guess.

    The only way the 5-man D-I tournament is justified is that the BIIF champ isn’t the 4 seed unless they have a losing record which is unlikely considering their new format.
    6-team BIIF D-I gets one spot like the 2-team ILH and MIL while 8-team OIA gets two automatically.

    There’s a reason why the vote was so close.

  5. Jayme Wight June 7, 2019 1:36 am

    Coach Z–If Iolani DIDN’T recruit, they’d be one of the SLOWEST teams in the state, wouldn’t they?

  6. Jayme Wight June 7, 2019 1:38 am

    How come Iolani hasn’t won a boys track state championship with all they speedy football players they have?

  7. ILH June 7, 2019 7:39 am

    Knowing that this was the deal coming in, why didnt Pac go up? just curious.

    If Damien is willing to mix it up with the D1 then surely Pac can try.

    I think Iolani ranked second or third to in state championships?? Just saying.

    Jayme- what speedy football players??

  8. Observation June 7, 2019 8:12 am

    The reason Pac5 did not move up to DI is that they made a two year agreement when the OIA – ILH divisions were formed, that is that there would be ILH representation in every division (DI, DII and Open). So, this was not an option for Pac5 for move up. It was an option for Kamehameha to move down to DI and Damien to move down to DII. Damien declined to moved down, and thus Kamehameha then decided to stay in the open division. The ILH leadership gave the option to the individual schools as to what division They wanted to participate in, that is as long as the two year agreement of having ILH representation in every division was met. This is a lack of ILH leadership in their inability to support all of the ILH schools. It was also the result of an unfortunate circumstance associated with the closing of St Francis.

  9. Ldub Twenty Owl Three Sixteen June 7, 2019 8:51 am

    If this format existed 20 years ago, Punahou would’ve been a D1 team. Just imagine how popular that would be among other D1 schools.

  10. ILH June 7, 2019 9:40 am

    Great information observation.

    With the exception of FORCING a team to play in a division they do not want to, what are some solutions to this situation?

    I think this was more of an unfortunate circumstance than lack of leadership.

    I think ive seen in another thread that there is a play-in game opportunity for pac to get into states, is this true??

    Kahuku would be in D1 too. Whats your point?

  11. Observation June 7, 2019 10:34 am

    And, your first statement is exactly why I say it is a lack of leadership for the ILH. The ILH has given no solution and simply going by the rules that Pac5 is not eligible for postseason play due to the one team league rule in that division.

    I don’t know anything about the play-in game opportunity. The official word I have heard is that Pac5 will not be eligible to play beyond the regular season regardless of their possible record. But, the game should be about more than postseason play. It is an opportunity for boys to learn how to work as a team. It builds character beyond what the rule book states.

  12. ILH June 7, 2019 11:08 am

    My point is, what other recourse do they have, being that they are honoring the 2 year agreement, that would not infringe upon another teams right to compete at the level they desire?

    Dissolve the agreement. That wouldnt go well with the already sensitive relationship between the OIA and ILH when it comes to football.
    Force Damien or Iolani down to DII? That wouldnt be right.

    Again, do you have any suggestions?

    So far, it seems as if this, for you, is all about post-season play.

  13. Observation June 7, 2019 11:40 am

    I think you did not read my last post. No, it is not about postseason play. I’ll say it again:
    The game should be about more than postseason play. It is about an opportunity for these young men to learn how to work as a team. It is about building character.

    My suggestions don’t mean anything, the rule and decisions have been set and I don’t see that changing. Thus I have no power to affect anything, but that does not mean I can’t criticize what I see as a lack of support on behalf of the ILH leadership.

    As I see it HHSSA is not going to be flexible in their ruling and I can understand why that is the case. However, I think with Kamehameha willing to move down to DI and hoping that Damien would move down to DII would have solved this dilemma. Do I think ILH should have forced the issue? I don’t know. I just know that they did not seem willing to negotiate with Damien on any level and left it up to Pac5 to figure things out for themselves. And, that appears to me as a lack of leadership.

  14. ILH June 7, 2019 12:55 pm


    I did read your last post. No need preach, I feel the same way. Funny that you have to write it though, for everyone to see.

    You no agree with the leadership, I dont agree with you. There we go. We both have the right to criticize.

    What would you tell Damien? or negotiate as you say.
    Why not Iolani?
    And what do you mean left it up to Pac 5 to figure things out for themselves?? What can they do?

    Somehow, I feel that this was more of a lack of options, least amount of harm situation. Its truly unfortunate for Kip and the boys. I hope there is a play-in game.

    On another note, why is Kamehameha wanting to go down??

  15. Observation June 7, 2019 1:23 pm


    “And what do you mean left it up to Pac 5 to figure things out for themselves?? What can they do?”

    That was exactly what was conveyed by ILH to Pac5, that this was something that Pac5 had to somehow figure out themselves. As If Pac5 can make their own schedule or figure out how they will be able to compete beyond the regular season, if they were able to put together a winning season (yes a big if, but still an opportunity). If that does not in and of itself show a lack fo leadership, than I don’t know what else I can say. So, you are correct, I don’t agree with your assumption that this was simply about an unfortunate circumstance.

    It was known well before the end of last academic year the fate of St. Francis school. And, no one could have figured this out in all that time? Now, all of the sudden it is assumed that Pac5 is supposed to figure this out – yes that what was given from leadership.

    If you know something different in defense of the ILH leadership, I would be willing to change my stance.

    I don’t know why ILH did not ask I’olani, I just know it was proposed to Damien. I also don’t know why Kamehameha initially agreed to drop down to DI, but that is what was conveyed.

  16. ILH June 7, 2019 3:10 pm

    Why didnt the Pac change their designation to D1?
    Now the league has to intervene and figure out how to comply with the agreement or scrap it.

    If you and whoever knew this was coming down the pipe, how come no one on Pac’s end did anything during that time? Where was the representation of your AD? or AD’s?

    I dont need you to change your stance.
    You bring nothing to the table but being a victim.
    Which you are entitled to be.

    I still havent heard any suggestions, btw.

  17. Observation June 7, 2019 4:09 pm

    I’m not sure if you understood what I wrote prior… Pac5 could not change their designation to D1 based on the two year agreement between the OIA and ILH. Last year was year one of that agreement. The agreement was that there would be ILH and OIA representation in each division. If Pac5 moves up, then there is no ILH representation in D2. This was not Pac5 to negotiate or figure, it was something to be done at a level higher than an individual program.

  18. All schools should be eligible June 8, 2019 5:31 pm

    I agree with “Observation”…

    Bottom line IMO, ILH leadership need to take responsibility and make this situation work for all member schools. Schools should have the right to declare or request to participate in a particular division, but by no means does that constitute an automatic designation to that division. So in this case, ILH leadership should first ask Damien or Iolani if any of them would volunteer to step down to division 2. If no volunteers, then they shall be advised that a decision will be made by the ILH leadership to select one of them to play down the upcoming season.

    In other words… c’mon ILH leadership, put on your grown up underwears and make the call!

  19. notes June 9, 2019 7:57 am

    this is what happens when you try to include these “schools” that are really just fronts for a football factory. Instead of trying to appease the ILH with their recruiting and then their demands for more state tourney births, maybe the OIA should finally put their foot down like kahuku did and say enough is enough! our kids are more important than your profits! kick out the ILH and let the REAL high school teams play

  20. ILH June 10, 2019 9:28 am

    First off,

    Notes- How did Kahuku put their foot down? genuinely curious about that.

    Observation- I get it now. Current way, only your team is screwed. Your way, another team gets screwed.

  21. IRC 1099 June 10, 2019 10:56 pm

    Notes: I understand your point that the OIA shouldn’t compete with the ILH… i respectfully disagree but what profits are you referring to in post #19? Doesn’t the current format allocate 80% of the ticket sales to the OIA and 20% to the ILH? Last year virtually of all inter league games were played at OIA venues (except the Aloha Stadium contests) thus the OIA retains 100% of all concession sales?

  22. One Team Fan June 10, 2019 11:14 pm

    Jayme Wight. Who has Iolani recruited on their current football team? They have less than 40 kids on their roster and no one only 1 starter over 200lbs? Their O line averages 165lbs and D line ain’t any bigger. Can you name these “recruits” to verify your claim? I think Coach Wendell just whips a bunch of math geeks into shape and teaches them to execute plays then run like hell for fear of getting cracked. Its a solid program but they went to Div 1 bc they can’t play STL, Punahou, Kamehameha 2 times each every season without sustaining a bunch of injuries. Don’t confuse them with Mililani, Kahuku or Campbell.

  23. notes June 12, 2019 7:04 pm

    when i talk about profits, i’m talking about way more than football tickets and merch. i’m talking about how the ILH “schools” use their football success in order to keep driving enrollment into their schools. football has a trickle down effect on all aspects of the ILH campuses and it’s in the ILHs interest to keep recruiting and poaching players and destroy the competitive balance of high school football.

    the OIA keeping 80% of the revenue and gate receipts or whatever garbage bone they threw at us to keep them in states is just pennies to them

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